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Hikone castle from Kyoto

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Milan, Italy
posts: 999
reviews: 3
Hikone castle from Kyoto

Hello,

I would like to visit a castle (in addition to Nijo-jo) while I'm in Kyoto next spring and - given that Himeji is currently undergoing renovation and covered in scaffolding - I understand that the second best choice might be Hikone castle.

I will be holding a JR pass while there, so my plan would be to go there using the Shinkansen (via Maibara); travel by train seems very quick, even though Shinkansen trains to Maibara don't seem to be too frequent.

Question is: how much time should I expect to spend in Hikone? Would it be more like a "half-day trip" rather than a full day trip?

Thanks

Illinois
Destination Expert
for Chicago, Illinois
posts: 31,978
reviews: 66
1. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

I assume you're referring to Odawara Castle in Odawara. Things to see/do in Hakone - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5200.html

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,704
reviews: 90
2. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

There is a Hikone Castle near Maibara in Shiga Prefecture, which was the domain for the Ii clan. The castle complex is left intact from the early 17th century when the castle was hurriedly built in the aftermath of the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 using the materials from the nearby Toyotomi castles that the Tokugawas defeated.

Hikone Castle is a bit smaller than Himeji but it still has the original castle tower and houses one of the best museums (as Ii clan lasted to the Meiji Restoration and played a pivotal role in the Tokugawa Shogunate), in the form of the reconstructed manor of the lord with a garden. It has a fairly well preserved castle town as well. For people who are interested in Japanese castles, it will be a rewarding trip.

It is near Maibara, and JR Pass holders can use the Tokaido Shinkansen Kodama (and some Hikari services) to get to Maibara and take the local train one stop to Hikone. Other travelers may take the Rapid or Ltd Exp (special fare payable) from Kyoto on the Tokaido (conventional) line.

The time required for the whole castle complex and museum is about 3 hours (without the exploration into the castle town). Add 2 hours or so for the return trip (Hikone is just over one hour by Tokaido Line Rapid from Kyoto), depending on your mode of transport and timing. It won't be a full day trip, but would require some time to get there and explore

If you are heading to Tokyo from Kyoto, you may do a stopover at Maibara.

Edited: 7:08 pm, October 22, 2012
Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,704
reviews: 90
3. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

Odawara Castle is another castle, located in the strategical location at the front gate of Kanto. It played an important role in history by securing the power of the Toyotomi Clan by uniting the forces against the owner of the castle, the Hojo clan.

In the final months of reunification of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi lead an immense campaign against Odawara Castle, known for its great fortifications (which encompasses the present city). As a great strategist he took time in attacking the castle, and even built a fort on a hill looking over the castle under cover and made it appear in just one day to pressurize the defending Hojo clan to surrender. The present castle tower is a reconstruct in the modern days in concrete but it's still worth seeing for the historical objects stored in the museum.

Milan, Italy
posts: 999
reviews: 3
4. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

Thanks both for your replies.

Dave148, I'm actually referring to HIkone castle, not HAkone:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7000.html

Yobeekool, I'm indeed moving to Tokyo after my stay in Kyoto, but I hadn't considered visiting Hikone as an enroute stop; that's an interesting idea. The point is we'll be a party of 3 (myself and my parents, in their early 60s), and we'll have some luggage with us: would that be practical? Are there places where we can keep our luggage during the stopover?

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 4,515
5. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

Yes there are coin lockers. But Hikone is an easy day trip destination(20 mins). I would normally do so and spend the morning time of the travel date to Tokyo in Kyoto, leaving my luggage at Kyoto hotel.

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,704
reviews: 90
6. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

If you are going with JR Pass, then it won't be a big problem to make a brief stopover at Maibara and go to Hikone. You might consider getting off and leaving luggage at Maibara station then go one stop to Hikone. Not all Hikaris stop at Maibara, but many do.

Otherwise, yes, as Nao-san says, you may go for a bit more than a half day trip (if you have JR Pass) (20 minutes indeed).

Kanazawa, Japan
posts: 825
reviews: 23
7. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

Hikone is a wonderful little castle, highly recommended. Don't forget the next-door garden, the museum, and the Castle Road shopping street.

Odawara Castle, on the other hand, is well worth going out of your way to avoid.

Milan, Italy
posts: 999
reviews: 3
8. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

Thanks, that sounds sensible: given the short travel time I will most probably do it as a half-day trip, returning to Kyoto after the visit.

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Japan
posts: 1,540
reviews: 15
9. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

I have been to Hikone castle as a day trip from Kyoto, but we also visited Inuyama castle at the same time. Both are original castles (not reconstructions) and well worth the visit.

I have been avoiding a visit to Himeji castle because of the reconstruction, but finally went there this past summer. I highly recommend a visit there. The reconstruction process is set up to demonstrate castle construction, with explanatory posters and brochures, and huge viewing areas so you can see the layers of how the castle was built. It was well worth the visit; I found it most informative!

10. Re: Hikone castle from Kyoto

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